The Use of Civil Disobedience, Part 2 (A Christian Manifesto Today #49)

Welcome to A Christian Manifesto Today episode #49. My name is Daniel Whyte III, president of Torch Leadership Foundation.

Pastor and Christian philosopher, Francis A. Schaeffer, warned us and created the war plan that we as Christians need today to deal with a society that is increasingly moving away from God, the Bible, and moral principles. He wrote “A Christian Manifesto” over many years ago and its words are just as relevant today as they were back then.

Our Christian Manifesto Today Passage from the Word of God today is Exodus 1:15-21 which reads: “And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one [was] Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see [them] upon the stools; if it [be] a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it [be] a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women [are] not as the Egyptian women; for they [are] lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.”

Our Christian Manifesto Today quote today is from Martin Luther King Jr. He said: “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”

In this podcast, we are using as our text: “A Christian Manifesto” by Francis A. Schaeffer.

Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer writes in “The Use of Civil Disobedience” (Part 2):

In a similar way John Locke (1623-1704) approached the same problem. Locke took Rutherford’s Lex Rex and secularized it. Locke, though secularizing Lex Rex and the Presbyterian tradition, nevertheless drew heavily from it. Locke made four basic points:

inalienable rights;
government by consent;
separation of powers;
the right of revolution (or you could word it, the right to resist unlawful authority).

These were the four points of Locke which were acted upon by the men among the American Founders who followed Locke.

Witherspoon certainly knew Samuel Rutherford’s writing well. The other Founding Fathers may have known him. They certainly knew about Locke. And for both Lex Rex and Locke there comes a time when there must be civil disobedience on the appropriate level. One begins not on the highest level, but on the appropriate level at one’s own point of history.

Many within the Christian community would agree that Christians can protest and take flight in the face of state oppression. However, force of any kind is a place where many Christians stop short.

Force, as used in this book, means compulsion or constraint exerted upon a person (or persons) or on an entity such as the state.

When discussing force it is important to keep an axiom in mind: always before protest or force is used, we must work for reconstruction. In other words, we should attempt to correct and rebuild society before we advocate tearing it down or disrupting it.

If there is a legitimate reason for the use of force, and if there is a vigilant precaution against its overreaction in practice, then at a certain point a use of force is justifiable. We should recognize, however, that overreaction can too easily become the ugly horror of sheer violence. Therefore, the distinction between force and violence is crucial. Os Guinness in The Dust of Death writes:

Without such a distinction there can be no legitimate justification for authority or discipline of any kind, whether on a parental or on a presidential level. In a fallen world the ideal of legal justice without the exercise of force is naive. Societies need a police force, a man has the right to defend his wife from assault. A feature of any society which can achieve a measure of freedom within form is that responsibility implies discipline. This is true at the various structural levels of society—in the sphere of the state, business, the community, the school, respectively.

In a fallen world, force in some form will always be necessary. We must not forget that every presently existing government uses and must use force in order to exist. Two principles, however, must always be observed. First, there must be a legitimate basis and a legitimate exercise of force. Second, any overreaction crosses the line from force to violence. And unmitigated violence can never be justified.

Lord willing, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s Pray.

* * * * * * * *

Dear friend, if you are listening today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, allow me to show you how:

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, my friend, continue to stand for the Lord and his Word. God bless you!

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